Dewalt 735 Bird Shelix changeover gone bad

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  • capncarl
    Veteran Member
    • Jan 2007
    • 3581
    • Leesburg Georgia USA
    • SawStop CTS

    Dewalt 735 Bird Shelix changeover gone bad

    I recently purchased a used Dewalt 735 planer at a yard sale for parts. It had a Bird Shelix cutter head. I removed the Shelix head to install in my sons Dewalt 735 as a Christmas present. Long story short, we installed the head and lubricated the chains and re-greased the gearbox, installed the carbide cutters and gave it a test run. Oh my what a mess! I have never seen such a sloppy cut come out of any planer. Several more test cuts to determine which cutters needing adjustment, which would be about all of them. I started removing and re-setting cutters. No amount of adjustment seem to make any difference. It was supper time (dinner to northern readers) so we called it a night to eat and research the problem. After an hour of googling Bird Shelix cutting problems I was astonished at all of the poor cutting reports and suggested fixes. There were not any true fixes, just suggested cutter installation tips. Nothing different than the way we had installed the cutters earlier. I had previously installed and rotated the cutters in my own Dewalt 735 so I’m not a stranger to this tool. Next day we removed all the cutters and I cleaned each cutter top and bottom and each edge on cardboard with machine oil. Looked like new. All surfaces of the head were cleaned with a soft bristle brush and WD40. I had previously cleaned the head and cutters when in removed the head, but not to this like new extent.

    After reassembling everything and installing each cutter exactly as recommended testing showed that we didn’t improve anything. Sloppy cut! I loosened and reset each cutter again with no improvement in cut. Several more cutter rotations provided no improvement in cut so we both decided it wasn’t getting any better and removed the Shelix head and re-installed the original 3 blade head. I’ll investigate this cutter head problem later but have my fingers crossed for the next time I rotate the cutters in my 735.
  • leehljp
    Just me
    • Dec 2002
    • 8485
    • Tunica, MS
    • BT3000/3100

    I don't have a clue as to why I am talking about as I don't have a 735, but two thoughts that came to mind -1. are all the heads the same thickness? it would take a micrometer to measure each cutter. 2. Could it be a large batch of bad cutter heads?

    Any chance the previous owner dogged it and tried feeding too much cut on some long boards damaging the mounting frame for the cutter head? Bearing replacement?
    Hank Lee

    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!


    • capncarl
      capncarl commented
      Editing a comment
      Lee, thanks for the suggestion. I ran rite out to the shop and randomly picked 6 cutters. All measure .099 on all 4 sides, using my gently used Starrett #216 caliper. I believe I will ask my next door neighbor who is a machinist if he will take the cutter head to his machine shop and chuck it up in a lathe and touch off on each cutter pad and see if there is any variations.
      I can’t vouch for the previous owner but I do know that they operated a successful reputable woodworking business. I’m venturing a guess that the reason they parked the 735 was after installing the shelix head the cut was so bad they gave up on it. There was negligible wear on the cutters, and it doesn’t appear that they had ever been rotated at all. There was other evidence that someone had been working on the planer but that wouldn’t affect the cut. They said they had tolerated the snipe as long as they could afford and bought a large Jet planer.
  • Holbren
    Senior Member
    • Oct 2004
    • 705
    • Heathrow, FL.

    Two recommendations. First, when you seat the cutters torque them to 45 inch pounds. Second, follow Byrd's procedure of setting them up on the ledge and letting the screw pull the cutter down. If you need the instructions I can send them.

    As a last resort call Byrd and see if they will bring it back and test it. Maybe a new head is warranted.
    Holbren, Whiteside, LRH, Ridge, Tenryu, Norton
    "BT310" coupon code = 10% for forum members


    • capncarl
      capncarl commented
      Editing a comment
      After the first test run disappointment we pulled the cutters off and completely cleaned everything spotless I seated and ran the screws down and torqued it to 45 in/lb per the Byrd instructions that I had printed out from their site. The cutter exploded! I had already tested the 1/4” drive torque wrench on several other bolts in the shop to compare with my hand tightening. About the same. I had no spare cutter inserts so that was it for the torque wrench.
      My next door neighbor is a machinist, he agreed to take the cutter head to his shop and test each insert flat to see if there is any out variations.

      I have no guess on the age of this cutter head so perusing Byrd for a replacement wouldn’t be right unless there are some machining discrepancies found.